Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John A. Anderson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Barbara J. Denison, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Wade Seibert, Ph.D.


Pastors and ministers in Christian congregations experience the role expectations of multiple constituents. The literature on clergy roles and role expectations indicates that the role of pastors and ministers has developed and changed. The existing literature also indicates a lack of role consensus and the presence of role conflict and overload. These factors have contributed to many pastors experiencing a lack of job satisfaction and also the experience of stress, and many have left vocational ministry as a result of this stress. The objective of this study was to research the experience of pastors in Brethren in Christ congregations in relation to role expectations held for them by various members of their role set, especially those of congregants. The research utilized both document analysis and qualitative research. The qualitative research was undertaken in semi-structured interviews with a purposeful sample of Brethren in Christ pastors who serve in solo-pastor congregations in the state of Pennsylvania and were within the first three years of ministry in their current congregation. Data analysis was done by means of a category system and this led to a number of analytic categories that were used for the interpretation of the findings. The transcripts of the participants' description of their experience, their reflection on that experience, and my analysis of these descriptions, add to the body of knowledge that exists regarding both congregant role expectations and pastors' experiences of these expectations.